The snowman stood on the opposite side of the driveway from the illuminated inflatable Nativity set, guarding like a sentinel in front of the gabled white paneled house in comfortable American suburbia. On this frigid, sable evening in the heart of dark December, the family was cooking dinner in the kitchen through the cross-hatched windows behind the corbeled arch of the balcony, and the lamps within shed a lambent glow over the blanket of newly fallen snow straight out of a warm Thomas Kinkade portraiture. Bright white holiday lights accentuated the sharp triangular borders of the shingled roof to resemble a hotel restaurant ambience in its graceful simplicity. The carefully curated façade was fitting for inclusion in the glossy pages of the latest edition of Home and Garden magazine. The father of the family had to have been a lawyer, doctor, or real estate agent to afford such luxuries. Or perhaps the mother was an account executive of some sort, in the interest of gender equality. The snowman did not particularly care either way.
The snowman lamented that he had no family to call his own. Sure, the preppy children in this rich abode called him forth from the powdery milk crystals presently sprinkling upon him from the wispy clouds of the stars, yet he felt he was made of nothing but ice. He needed something to warm him, an anodyne for his pain, an analgesic for his suffering. Some alchemical antidote to catalyse the water hardened within him into the airy ether that could give him life.
In short, he needed a stiff drink to ward off the cold. Lo and behold, the mailman came for the last delivery on the block, and what do you know, he dropped off a holiday gift in the form of a winter cherry port from some distant relative, contained in a Spanish leather gourd bota bag for an artisanal touch, nestled in a wicker basket. Little did the family know that night brought the snowman to life. He stretched the yawed sapling branches of his arms with forked twigs for fingers and adjusted his second boulder of snow for a torso, while blinking his button eyes on his frosty head, wriggling his carrot nose, grinning with his mouth of coal, and propping his top-hat at a rakish angle as he formulated the plan of attack. He had a corncob pipe and a red scarf to perfect the picture. He slid his bottom ball down the snow bank towards the quaint brick mailbox and investigated the contents of the package as soon as the mailman drove away into the purple dusk.
After much difficulty, he extracted the sack from the box and unscrewed the lid as the crisp mist wreathed about him. He put the juice’s tip to his pebble lips and took a sip. It was sweet and hearty. He took a swig, as the liquid filled his rotund middle and flushed a dash of Santa Claus’ rubicund complexion to his cheeks. He felt alive, like he could do anything, or be anyone! Soon, the fountain of mirth was drained to the dregs as he sucked the bladder dry and squeezed its final remains down his frozen gullet. He slipped and sloshed, slid and slobbered back to his place across from the Nativity. He felt fluid and permeable, come sleet, come hail.
The lights went off throughout the house as the children were tucked into bed. The snowman sensed a queer tingling spreading throughout his body. He turned to the window of the children’s bedroom on the first floor and knocked with his wooden hand, but no one responded. He inched himself onto the porch and rapped on the door, but he had no better luck. Never did he feel more alone, more apart from the whole of creation. He thought of all the accidents he had seen on the road in front of him over the course of the past couple of months, and how no one had bothered to build him a friend or a family in the front yard as he stood beneath the stars alone. A sadness melted him inside. Those humans had made him, but they did not care about him. “Why was I to be made of snow, made to be alone?” he wept peppermint tears as he looked up to the snowy clouds, hiding the heavens from his sight. As he collapsed into a heap of mush, the vacuum fan of the Nativity scene whirred, giving him some quiet company in a commercialized commemoration of the time God found no room in an inn.
When the children had awoken the next morning, they bawled their little eyes out to find their beloved snowman bowled over in a crumpled heap in the front yard, as if he had been bulldozed by a stray truck. All that remained was a hat, a pipe, a scarf, a pile of stones, and a couple of sticks amidst the dirty precipitation… along with a wine pouch hidden in the drift.
“Why, Daddy, why?” they blubbered as their mother attempted to get them ready for the impending school bus in the last weeks of the year.
For an instant, he suspected the machinations of a neighborhood vandal. “I don’t know what could have happened, kids. He must have melted overnight, the temperature just got above freezing. We’ll build another.” As he went up the front sidewalk to get the morning mail, he stopped in his tracks. “Hey, who took the bottle of port the Joneses sent us this year?”
“I don’t know, dear!” the mother responded knowingly from the porch. Little did she know that that answer lied at their very feet.